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Nathan Edwards Jun 24, 2008

Trendnet Easy-N-Upgrader TEW-637AP

At A Glance

David Byrne

Bumps up your G network to near-N speeds without replacing your router.

David Blaine

Mediocre range; only operates at 2.4GHz band instead of dual-band, like real draft-N routers.

If you can’t afford to upgrade your network to 802.11n Draft N 2.0, you might consider purchasing Trendnet’s Easy-N-Upgrader TEW-637AP. Instead of throwing your existing router in the trash, plug it into the Easy-N-Upgrader access point to gain many of the benefits of a Draft N router for about half the price.

True dual-band routers operate one radio on the 2.4GHz band and the other on the 5GHz band—the ones we’ve tested have built-in gigabit switches. Trendnet’s device, however, uses only the 2.4GHz band—the same one your older Wi-Fi router most likely uses—and since it’s just an access point, it doesn’t have a switch at all.

And while you could operate both access points at the same time—in fact, at no point does Trendnet’s installation wizard advise you to turn off the radio inside your router—that leaves both devices competing for the same bandwidth.

You should ignore the installation wizard altogether in favor of the device’s web-based user interface. Trendnet’s default configuration leaves the router operating in mixed 802.11b/g/n mode with channel bonding turned off. In that scenario, with the radio on our Asus WL700gE 802.11g also on, the Trendnet delivered TCP throughput of just 29.3Mb/s at close range. When we turned off the Asus’s access point and tweaked the Easy-N to run in 802.11n-only mode with channel bonding activated, throughput jumped to 81.7Mb/s.

The Trendnet’s throughput was significantly faster than our 802.11g access point’s inside the house. Its outdoor range, though, was less impressive: Our notebook couldn’t maintain a connection to it in either of our exterior locations.

Benchmarks
  DLink DIR-655
ASUS WL700GE Trendnet TEW-637AP
Home Office, 5 feet (Mb/s) 90.5
19.6 81.7
Kitchen, 20 feet (Mb/s) 67.4 19.7 83.6
Patio, 38 feet (Mb/s) 59.6 19.6 72.9
Bedroom, 60 feet (Mb/s) 28.9 19.4 65.4
Media Room, 35 feet (Mb/s) 27.3 14.0 19.2
Outdoors A, 90 feet (Mb/s) 8.4 13.1 Unable to connect
Outdoors B, 85 feet (Mb/s) 2.5 4.8 Unable to connect

Best scores are bolded. See here for detailed test criteria.

THE VERDICT

Trendnet Easy-N-Upgrader TEW-637AP

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